On Being Unable to Teach Yoga

I would like to foreshadow this next stage of life by saying that I have a hunch that not teaching yoga will be a lot like when I’ve tried to leave New York; the chances that I will come back to it, and soon, are very real. I would also like to provide a disclaimer that this post does not have anything to do with my body right now. I’ve taught yoga when I was unable to walk and in crutches. Teaching yoga when my body was unable to demonstrate poses was invaluable for my teaching abilities. Now, though I’m coming from a place of physical ability and agility, is the time when I need to take space.

I’m writing this post because last year I worked three jobs and started graduate school…and I felt all of those things fall through the cracks because I was over-committed. From a boyfriend telling me a few months ago after 3 hours of sleep (and not for fun reasons) that I did more than most people to a dear friend who told me yesterday that this is just what I do (a lot…too much), I realized that something has to give.

In New York City, being busy is too often considered a compliment / congratulations / accolade. I grew up (and honestly still am sometimes) very competitive – and almost territorial – about how busy I can be. But, you see, I have had the unique opportunity of living on the West Coast where people are infinitely more competitive about how often they go camping (which doesn’t involve a lot of bopping around from job to job) than how many hours they work in a day. I love being busy doing what I love and I am so grateful that I love what I do, in all sectors of my (professional) life. I do not love failing those things by making too many mistakes or being burnt out because I am just too overwhelmed.

I didn’t want it to be yoga, but for now, it has to be. It is the only job I do freelance, on a flexible basis, and can afford to leave for the time being. I told someone this recently – that I am so sad to not be teaching yoga this year (melodramatic that I am, I believe I used the word “mourning”). They responded by reminding me that I am still doing yoga (daily, I might add). That, my friends, can be enough for now. For now, growing up on OM means infusing the vibrations of this practice I’ve been so dedicated to – the practice that’s been the only constant in my life over 8 years of change and transitions –  into all I do.

Time to practice.

About Yoga U: DIY Home Yoga Practice E-Course

The following post is part of a countdown series leading up to the release of my first e-course (!!!), which comes out on Friday, July 15th. You can pre-register here with a special discount rate using the code LIVELEARNER for taking the course LIVE. This excerpt comes straight out of the syllabus!

Ultimately, a home yoga practice is about your ability to personalize something general in a way that works for you. When I start off the in-person yoga classes I teach at Harlem Yoga Studio, I begin by saying, “Everything I teach is a suggestion.” You know your body, heart, + intention best. Use that knowledge to make this course work for you.

Speaking of the framework, this course is designed in a specific way so that you can take it at your own pace if you’d like, but, if you’re anything like me and thrive on structure, you can also move through it in a manageable week-by-week way. Here is what you can expect:

  • Two lessons per week (except for Week Three, where there will be 3 lessons that all go together) that include a variety of video, audio, written, and visual content. You should be able to complete each lesson (minus the hOMework) in one sitting during the span of 30 minutes or less. For example, you might choose to complete one lesson on a Tuesday and another on a Thursday. Or, if you plan to use weekends to take this course, you might want to do one lesson on Saturday and another on Sunday.
  • Look for the hOMework at the end of each lesson for you to complete in between lessons. The hOMework will often pair a prompt for a yoga practice that you will actually do on the mat with a reflection worksheet or journaling prompt.

What are you waiting for? Register for the e-course here. The discount code for registering by July 15th is LIVELEARNER.

Top 5 Tips for Taking Your Practice Off the Mat

The following post is part of a countdown series leading up to the release of my first e-course (!!!), which comes out on Friday, July 15th. You can pre-register here with a special discount rate using the code LIVELEARNER for taking the course LIVE. These 5 tips come from the final lesson: Off the Mat.

  1. Meditate. Allow the physical practice to fulfill its initial intention: to prepare for a seated meditation. Choose whatever format you’d like. Sit down. Set a timer for 5 minutes to start out with. Close your eyes and let the fluctuations of the mind pass.
  2. One of the best motivators for a yoga practice is to involve other people in it. A practice is often fueled by specific forms of service to others. Try volunteering for a yoga service organization such as Off the Mat, Bent on Learning, Lineage Project, SONIMA Foundation (there are so many!).
  3. Breathe. Practice taking deep breaths throughout the day. Set a reminder on your phone if you need to at the points of the day when you’d need it the most!
  4. Talk about your practice with your friends. Don’t proselytize it; simply tell them that you’re doing it. You never know when the ripple effect will take place.
  5. Intention. Let your intention fuel all that you do, off the mat as well. Practice recalling it throughout your day and check in rigorously throughout the day to see what tweaks you’d need to make to fuel it better.

Register for the e-course here. The discount code for registering by July 15th is LIVELEARNER.

Yoga Joy in July

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photo taken by the lovely A last year in Portland, OR with a book that inspired much

Tell me, O quickly! dream of aliveness, the flaming source of your bright breath. ~ Langston Hughes

Happy July, everyone! I hope this new month is off to a lovely start for all of you, wherever in the world you are when you read this. I am writing you from the gorgeous Aspen, Colorado, where I am soaking up the annual and oh-so-inspiring Aspen Ideas Festival. Today is the third day of the festival, and more and more, I am reminded of the transformative power of ideas, and all they are capable of when put into action.

I think I am beginning to realize that ideas, when they aren’t put into practice and shared with the world, are dreams. Dreams are wonderful because ideas can be challenging to carry out, especially when we have many of them. Yet, there is something potent in what separates the ideas that make it up to the stage at this festival, such as Bryan Stevenson’s idea that children have a right to be children, regardless of crimes committed, or the ideas that Emily Bazelon espouses in the Slate Political Gabfest. These are dreams that people have transported into reality.

Speaking of, I would love to use this blog post to put some of my ideas into action. I am thrilled to share that I have spent many, many hours working on an online course for creating a yoga practice (a massive extension of the workshop you received emails about just a week ago, and one you can do anywhere).

But, before we launch into the e-course fabulousness (this email is chock-full of details!), expect some local yoga happenings this month in NYC! I’m teaching a Community Yoga class at Harlem Yoga Studio (i.e. donation-based! no excuses!) this Sunday, July 3rd, from 3:30-4:30pm. Because I’m having a summer full of travel, I will be mainly subbing so stay tuned on my website, as well as on social media, for additional sub dates as they come up!

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If you take the course LIVE with me starting on July 15th (and you can sign up anytime until then), you will receive a full 20% OFF with the code LIVELEARNER.
Yoga U Summer School is my online course that’s been in the making for years! Through taking this course, you will learn a plethora of strategies for starting + sustaining hOMe yoga practices that will blow your minds + keep you coming back to your mats!

Over four weeks, you’ll enjoy: 

  • a detailed syllabus that will lay out exactly how to create your hOMe practice in a manageable, step-by-step fashion
  • 9 detailed + fully developed lessons in total, which you can do at your own pace (unless you love structure like me and want to do it syllabus-style)
  • plenty of video content to bring the practice to life
  • a ton of encouragement, resources, essays, hOMework, visual cues + diagrams to make your yoga practice the best that it can be
  • unlimited email contact with me + a private Facebook group so that you can get answers to all your questions!

Curriculum Preview

  • WEEK ONE: SUSTAINABILITY
    • About Me + Your Syllabus, Top 5 Tips, Journaling Prompts
  • WEEK TWO: AMBIANCE
    • Checklists for both what you need + what you might want, a tour of my own yoga room, creating a mood, + how to make a yoga playlist that fits your practice perfectly
  • WEEK THREE: ASANA
    • Finding Your Sun Salutation, videos + PDFs of practice structures, hip opening + hip closing, peak poses
  • WEEK FOUR: MOVING ON
    • Using props effectively, meditation, service, intentions

Remember, if you sign up before July 15th, the price of this course will decrease dramatically…and the content will never go away! You’ll have full access to the wide variety of lessons + home practices to do at your own pace, whenever you want!

I hope to see you on the mat or online soon!

Online Offerings Cheat Sheet

I finally found some time to sit down after a few surprisingly hectic weeks of not officially working. Without my third grade teaching schedule, I’ve found myself fluttering about New York City, bopping from yoga classes to hanging out with friends I haven’t seen in a long time, to practicing other forms of self-care that are harder to come by during the school year. A friend reminded me the other day of the adage, “If you want something to get done, ask a busy person to do it.” With this newfound “freedom,” I’m learning that I need some more structure if I want to do this whole working-at-home / on-the-road-this-summer thang.

After a lovely breakfast at Friedman’s with the wonderful J, I now find myself at the Argo Tea on University Place with over an hour to spare before a class at Yoga Vida. It feels like the perfect time to share what I am up to this summer with the blog.

I am transforming and majorly extending both live workshops that I’m teaching at Harlem Yoga Studio into online courses through CourseCraft – a forum I am really loving for this kind of work. Here’s a bit of a preview, and a heads-up because if you register for the course to take it LIVE, there will be quite the discount.

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Cost: $99 

Live Student Discount: 20% off

Start Date: July 15th

 

 

 

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Cost: $50

Live Student Discount: 20% off

Start Date: August 1st 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for some promotional videos, samplers, and more to get you e-course ready. Please reach out to me in comments if you have ANY questions at all about the e-courses and what they will entail. I am still in the thick of the design process and would love to know what you think!

Book Review: The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga by Amy Ippoliti and Taro Smith

Yoga is the process of skillfully turning challenges, failures, hurts, and mistakes into opportunities. – Amy Ippoliti + Taro Smith

The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga: The Yoga Professional’s Guide to a Fulfilling Career (New World Library, June 8, 2016) by Amy Ippolitti with Taro Smith is a comprehensive guide to marketing yoga teaching as a sustainable business, while upholding the integrity that the practice demands. The book is part guide, part exercises and part memoir of Ippolitti’s and Smith’s already-achieved success as yoga business professionals. In fact, the second I received the offer to review this book in my email inbox, I immediately knew I wanted to write it…because I’ve admired Ippoliti’s work for years.
62ea9d1f-4979-4049-8a51-032bdb818944.jpgI was obsessed with the name and concept of her e-course, 90 Minutes to Change the World, even though I could not afford to take it when it was live. This book, however, takes that course and mass produces its most vital content because guess what? There’s room at the top for a whole lot of successful yoga teachers (and Ippoliti and Smith even take the reader through creating their own definition of success at the beginning of the book!).

There’s an irony in how, during the one time in my life I was making a living solely by teaching yoga, I could not afford to take that e-course. This irony is a problem, and one that Ippoliti aims to solve in her book. Here are my key take-aways for how to solve that problem, that I gleaned from reading this phenomenal book:

  • We need to make sure that our yoga business embodies the ethics that our yoga practice is about.
  • Yoga teaching is both an art and a profession.
  • Schedule everything in! Including self-care!
  • As teachers, we are responsible for being skillful, which means teaching to who is in the room and managing time well. 

With chapters like “Yoga Business Basics,” “Class Planning and Preparation,” “Presenting Yourself as a Teacher,” and “Social Media,” The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga speaks to yoga teachers at all levels, from the newly trained to the once-a-week teacher to those with their eye on national, multimedia reach.

“To be a yoga teacher is to embody what it means to have well-being in life, and in turn to impart that understanding to others,” writes Amy. “Trust yourself and your own authentic seat as the teacher. Carve out and claim the time to care for yourself, do your practice, and kindle your own fire. Then watch how your enthusiasm and energy can light up another’s fire. This is how we help wake up the world.”

The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga is an amazing and comprehensive take on all a yoga teacher needs to know to run their own business successfully, with savvy, and while keeping their integrity intact. Everything is full of the intention of usefulness behind it all. It has templates for creating your own yoga binder, marketing plans, and more. From a full guide for how to sequence a yoga class to how to gain control of your finances, Ippoliti doesn’t hold back. And, while being about business, it is not a book without heart.

When I finished reading this book, as I sat on my grandmother’s dining room table (this was most definitely my vacation read), lounging around in new Spiritual Gangster sweats and my “Hoosier Valentine” t-shirt (thanks, N!), I felt a jolt of inspiration flow through me. The first Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is “Atha Yogash Nushasanam:” “NOW, the practice begins.” I now feel able to apply that wisdom to my yoga teaching practice, as well as to my own practice on the mat. I feel inspired to create marketing plans for all that I am offering this summer, when yoga becomes my main business, versus my side job like it is during the school year. My computer has shared screens; one for the PDF of Ippoliti’s book, and the other for GoogleDocs: my own marketing plan buzzing with the excitement of being a container to help me teach and make a greater impact. I will not be letting go of this book anytime soon.

To order the book, click here.

For more information, check out Ippoliti’s website.

Top 5 Tips for Creating + Sustaining Your Own Home Yoga Practice

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In honor of both the workshop + e-course I am putting out this summer, I wanted to share my top five tips for upping the game when it comes to a true, awesome, DIY hOMe yoga practice.

  1. Set an intention. What do you want your own practice to convey about you? This intention is not static; it can and will vary. When I first began practicing, my intention was to be present and while it was great for me at the time, it is not super unique or personal. I now go by the three F’s (yeah, I know I love alliteration) – fierce, fun, and flowing. That is what I want my practice to convey about me. My yoga practice on the mat should be reflective of who I want to be off the mat.
  2. Music is an excellent motivator for a yoga practice. Mixing up the music is a way to not get bored, even when doing the same poses over and over again. It also makes a practice that can sometimes seem foreign to our bodies an integrated part of day-to-day life. Hearing a Top 40 song when in Warrior II just might make the difference between a serious frown and the joyful smile that is the goal of Yoga. Break down the parts of the practice and dissect what music is good for each part.

  3. Mix and match / don’t get bored. There are plenty of styles of yoga out there, from Jivamukti to Iyengar. Your job as a divinely unique being, is not to choose between them. It is, rather, to use discernment in creating a practice all your own by combining them. That’s right – you, too, can create your own style of yoga! It will emerge from your personal practice.
  4. Put your mat somewhere unavoidable. Allow your mat to be a physical reminder to practice yoga. Position it somewhere you walk by every single day (near your bed, in a doorway, in front of your closet, you get the picture).
  5. Chunk It Up. A home practice does not have to all happen at once. You can sync it up with the times of day to make it less daunting. Have 5 minutes in the morning when you roll out of bed? Use them for your sun salutations! Have 5 minutes at night? Use them for your forward folds. Feeling tired at work? Backbend in the hallway. Do whatever you need to do to make it seem like less of a big deal, and you’ll still reap all the amazing benefits!

The workshop I am teaching on June 25th at Harlem Yoga Studio will delve deeper into each of these tips. Register here!

Workshop Announcement: DIY Home Practice

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Today, during lunch, a coworker asked me a question I’ve been asked many times…this week: How can I start a home yoga practice?

Now, this simple question comes with many other explanations and inquiries attached to it:

  • I don’t live near any yoga studios.
  • The timing of the classes at the studios I am near don’t work for my schedule.
  • A full hour feels like too much time.
  • I want to start integrating what I learn in my yoga classes into a home practice.
  • I just don’t know where to start.
  • I just don’t know how to continue.
  • How do I stop myself from quitting?

All of the above can be boiled down to: How can I make sure that I get on the mat as much as and to the degree that I need to?

I am thrilled to, in a workshop format, be able to answer this question.

Here’s the workshop description:

This 2-hour-long workshop will equip you with the skills, inspiration, and knowledge to lead your own yoga classes for your own beautiful selves and bodies. DIY Yoga will empower you to create your own home practice for those days when classes don’t fit into your schedule or for when you want to freestyle it on your mat, but safely and effectively. Together, we will move, breathe, and discuss the best and most effective ways for starting your own practice and moving like yourself.

In the comments, please tell me: What questions do you have when it comes to crafting a home yoga practice?

What Yoga Teachers Can Learn About Marketing from SoulCycle

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via soul-cycle.com

Happy Souliversary!

Okay, I am going to be honest. I cannot believe I am saying those words. I cannot believe that I woke up at 5:20am this morning to make it to a 6am SoulCycle class. I cannot believe that I am excited to do that again on Thursday. My coworkers love SoulCycle and, through lunchtime conversations and a general attitude of realizing that my life is always improved upon trying something new, I went to my first class in October.  I did not go to my second class until February. Since then, I’ve been going fairly regularly (about once a week). It has been a joy to go to class on Monday night before graduate school…it feels like going to a dance club in the middle of the day.

What impresses me most about SoulCycle and, to be honest, consistently blows my mind is their marketing. They do it with soul, with heart, and with a business and technological acumen that screams professionalism and effectiveness.

As a yoga teacher, I am constantly looking for ways to upgrade my marketing practices. It is also something that I struggle with, and know many other yoga teachers who struggle to find a marketing protocol consistent with what they want to offer the world with their practice. To celebrate their tenth anniversary, I want to offer up what I’ve noticed through doing my “fieldwork” (tapping it back while taking some serious mental notes in my yoga teacher brain). All – literally, all – of these can be applied in a yoga teaching practice as well.* SoulCycle is just another type of asana. Same intention, different forms.

* Please note that while these steps are related to SoulCycle, they are by no means products of SoulCycle, just their process. Be mindful when adopting any of these that it’s all authentically you and not the content of anywhere or anyone else.

  1. Hold students accountable through consistent e-mail communication.
    • I receive multiple emails from SoulCycle. The following are the types of emails (and they work for every yoga business as well).
      • Weekly Updates: discounts, various themed classes, a small note
      • Special Occasions / Celebratory: announcements of big events, workshops, + more
      • Reservations: Every time I book a class, I receive an email that has a calendar attachment inside to make my life that much easier.
      • Social Media Campaigns: where to find the business using various hashtags related to different themes
      • Event Alerts + Reminders: what gets sent out ahead of time to make new events known
  2. Offer a free class once they’re hooked.
    • My free class was not my first class; it was my second…and it was a lovely surprise that made me appreciate the customer service that much more.
  3. Maintain a gorgeous and light-hearted website.
    • Their website has unbelievably awesome content, with mini simple interviews with instructors that share light-hearted facts such as guilty pleasures + fave karaoke songs (*Again, do not copy these actual prompts; make your own!).
  4. Be extremely beginner-friendly.
    • I can always count on there being someone (or four people) to make me feel welcomed when I get on a bike. At first glance, the studio seemed over-staffed. But then I realized that it is hugely important to have people there who can make modifications for the beginners. And, when the instructor asks if anyone is new, it is always to cheer them on. At the workshops I teach this summer, I would love to pull in a friend wearing a Harlem Yoga Studio t-shirt to help welcome in the beginners.
  5. Welcome everyone.
    • Have a smile on, and a warm voice, and be prepared to answer questions. It’s really that simple.
  6. Offer amenities.
    • The gum, towels, toiletries, pins, and hair ties – fully on display – are such a nice touch. In yoga, handouts and mini Lara bars have done the trick for me in the past.
  7. Publicize what’s happening behind-the-scenes.
    • As you can tell, I love learning about the business aspect of the studio, and seeing what’s going on behind the scenes through social media posts and interviews on their great blog is a huge part of that!
  8. Create specials, keep up with trends, and cultivate themed classes.
  9. Make signing up a ritual.
    • If it’s 12pm on the dot on a Monday, the faculty lounge at my workplace is abuzz with people signing up on the very nicely-interfaced app for all their classes for the week. Then, their schedule is built around it and everyone walks around with the satisfaction of booking the reservations / bikes they wanted. I try to do this with my Laughing Lotus app too. Oh, the simply pleasures.
  10. After doing Steps 1-9, charge what you deserve and round up.
    • SoulCycle prices are no joke. They are steep. Yet they also offer a robust scholarship program and, I’m assuming, pay their instructors well so I don’t complain and I don’t hear other cyclers complaining either. As professionals that deal with the body, what we do is no joke. It’s important for us to value ourselves, by truly gauging the population we can serve, so that we can provide for other populations we’d like to serve. Often, this involves rounding up.

What are you waiting for? Tap it back, write up a blog post, or update that website!

FridayING: First Week of April

readING

listenING

  • Taylor Swift
  • Tranquility du Jour: From Day Job to Dream Job (This week’s podcast was tres inspiring!)

watchING

teachING